I have been dismally failing at the blog lately. I'm just done, I think. I always only planned on doing this until Liana had been with us for one year but then she had her surgery coming up and I wanted to cover that. This is, after all, Liana's story and that was a pretty big deal for a teeny, tiny girl. So, since her surgery, a month ago, she has done really well. She came home a couple of days after her surgery and just jumped back in to playing like nothing had happened. Honestly, I was so exhausted and she was so energetic, I was beginning to wonder which of us had the surgery. It was a little rough in the beginning because she couldn't have any food for a while. We had been told that she could have soft things, like small pasta, but we quickly learned that she could not. First attempt at macaroni and cheese led to her retching in a restaurant, which was very scary for her and us. We knew that she was okay but she didn't know what was happening and it scared her. So we were back to liquids for quite a while. Having the nissen fundoplication, her esophagus is tighter than the normal esophagus. She can't burp or throw up. That's just how it is. But right after surgery, it's swollen, of course, and much tighter and, as her surgeon explained to us, being her second time having this surgery, it was even more swollen so it took a while for that swelling to go down. But gradually it did. She had to learn to take smaller bites and to chew, chew, chew her food. We can tell when things start to get stuck in there. She doesn't panic anymore, just waits and drinks something and waits some more. When the food is down, she shrugs her shoulders and smiles and moves on with eating her food a little more carefully. She can be such a tough girl. She is our little drama queen a lot of the time, who will cry over nothing and we will tell her to shake it off, and she does. But, I swear, when it comes to the big things, she is so tough! Erik called it her survivor side and I think that is a perfect way to explain it. She handles the things that would be tough for anyone with such amazing strength. It's just in her, this survivor side. Some people have it and some people don't. Liana just does. She's been through a lot in her tiny life, things that most of us can't even imagine having to go through. Yet she smiles through it all! Life can be rough and has been for this little one but she handles it with such strength. It's amazing how you see qualities in your children that you admire and want to learn from yourself! I have seen qualities in all of my kids that I would love to have myself! They are amazing little people who teach me things every day!
Spoiled by family! Thank you Uncle Tim and Auntie Carri!!
Thank you Grammy and Papa!
Back at home and ready for fun!
Special gifts for all of the kids! Thank you Char and Wes!
Liana's surgery was yesterday. We woke up bright and early and rushed over to the hospital, with Ella and Ethan in tow. As we waited, Liana was her super friendly self, teasing and calling everyone who came into the room "baby." Silly girl! Her surgery took about 2 1/2 hours and it went really well! This surgery usually takes about an hour or so but the doctor had warned us that it would take longer since it was her second one. It's just a bit more complicated. He was able to do it laproscopically, which was a relief. Liana was pretty sore and tired yesterday. She wanted nothing to do with anyone, except for family. She cried any time the nurses came near her and gave her doctor the stink eye when he came to visit. Any time she cried, her oxygen levels went down but she never had to be given any oxygen because she always calmed down once the nurses left. Her poor little throat was so sore from having a breathing tube during her surgery. She wasn't able to drink anything but she could have ice chips, which was an amazing relief! She did manage to sit up and even walk a little yesterday! The amazing girl even managed to let us know when she needed to use the potty and sometimes even walked to it herself! I was afraid to pick her up until she cried and cried, "Mommy" over and over and her oxygen levels got really low but when I picked her up, she calmed down right away and back up went her levels. It made me so happy that I can be there for her but it also made me so sad, again, that the first time she had this surgery, she had no mama to take care of her. She had to be by my side most of the day, preferably in my arms. It melted my heart. She would get so sad if I even tried to sit on the couch and if I went to the bathroom, forget it!
Today has been fantastic! She woke up in a great mood! When the cleaning lady came in this morning, Liana started smiling and being silly and called her "baby." Oh boy, this girl is such a tease! The nurses today were warned by last night's nurses that she is afraid of them but today's nurses have seen none of it! She is smiley and chatty and playing peek-a-boo with them. She's a totally different child! She also got to play! It is good for her to walk because she needs to get the air out of her tummy and walking helps so we walked to the playroom this morning and she hopped right on a big wheel and started scooting all around! I could hardly keep up with her as I drug her IV all around the play room. We had to keep telling her to slow down! She is now on a liquid diet and has had some apple juice and a popsicle. Later, she might even get to have some pudding or a milkshake! If she continues to do well and not have any issues with her diet, she may even get to go home tomorrow!!! So far, so good! She's been unhooked from the machine that monitored her heart rate and oxygen levels and hopefully will be taken off of the IV soon. The doctor even told the nurses to not check her vitals at night so we can actually get some sleep, bless him!
I am just amazed at the strength of our little girl! I had no idea that she would be riding a big wheel less than 24 hours after having surgery! I can't believe how she's back to being her charming, sweet and spunky self so soon!! This experience is just reminding me all over again how blessed we are to be her family! I am so happy to get to be the mama to this wonderful child!
Being silly before surgery
Poor, sleepy girl
She did manage to smile for me after she got her ice chips (and some morphine)!
Battle wounds- 4 in all, 1 in her belly button. Ouch!
"Though she be but little, she is fierce" -William Shakespeare
We had Liana's appointment with the surgeon today. They called last week to reschedule and we actually ended up able to come in 3 days sooner so we were happy about that. It turns out that Liana definitely needs surgery. Her hernia isn't just a hiatal hernia anymore, it's a paraesophageal hernia. With a nissen fundoplication, the curved part at the top of the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus. That part of her stomach ended up misshapen when the nissen came undone and actually went up through the diaphragm right next to her esophagus. There is risk that it could wrap around the esophagus. So we're off to redo the nissen fundoplication, or fundo if you're hip to the GI lingo. Haha. She's having her surgery one week from tomorrow. Yikes. She will have to stay in the hospital probably 5 days, maybe less depending on how she is doing. Her surgeon was great and really knows what he's talking about so that was a comfort. I had a whole list of questions but he had already answered most of them. I feel a little overwhelmed but ready. We're glad to be having the surgery done so soon. So please pray for this little cutie that everything will go smoothly and recovery will be quick!
Last weekend, we went to a celebration with our Families with Children from China (FCC) group for the Autumn Moon Festival. The Autumn Moon Festival is the second biggest holiday in China, next to Chinese New Year. From what I understand, it is a bit like Thanksgiving in that they get together with family and eat and have a good time. They also like to look at the moon, knowing that family that they can't be with are under the same moon. This is pretty fitting for us as our families live far away and we miss and think about them a lot. So for our celebration, we brought a picnic to the park. After dinner, the kids got to make lanterns that had glow sticks to light them up and get their faces painted. Ella and Liana were fairies and Ethan had a dragon on his cheek. After that, it was dark so we got to walk in a lantern parade around the park and when we got back, we ate mooncake. It is always fun adding some of Liana's Chinese culture to our family. I love how we have been able to adopt some of her culture since she joined our family. It is also very cool being around families that look just like ours. We stand out wherever we go because, let's face it, we're a little unique. I've never been fond of standing out so I have definitely had to get used to the kind of attention that we get now, having 2 white children and 1 Chinese. We are remembered by people and are asked questions. I don't mind as long as they keep it appropriate or don't seem to be giving us negative attention but we have had some of that too. But being around all of these other transracial families, just like ours, is a beautiful thing. You feel a bond with a group of people who are mostly strangers because we all "get it". We've been through the difficult process of adoption and the tough stuff that comes after. We all have different stories and different experiences but we share something that not everyone can understand. I look forward to Liana growing up and bonding with children who will understand her in a way that most of her friends can't and seeing that, even though our family is unique, we're not so different after all.
It has been one year since we were finally able to hold Liana in our arms for the first time!!! In a way, I can't believe a year has already gone by but at the same time, I can't believe it has only been a year! That trip to China feels like a really long time ago and it seems like Liana has always been with us. I made an adoption video for Liana to show her some of this beautiful journey that we have been on. As I waded through all of our pictures for hours and hours, I couldn't help but get goose bumps, at times, and tears at others as I remembered the whole thing. I was struck again by the miracle of how we were matched with her so quickly after finally finishing our dossier and sending it to China. I was brought back to the moment that the ayis brought her through the door and we saw our first glimpse of her and felt the same butterflies in my stomach. And the excitement and nerves that I felt when the ayi handed her to me. There go those goose bumps again! I just feel so blessed to have been chosen to go on this journey and to get to be this wonderful child's mama! I know that God chose us for a reason and I know that I don't deserve it but I will just say, "Thank you!" and accept this wonderful gift with open arms, over and over again! I love my three babies so much (sorry kids, you will always be my babies!) and I will never stop being thankful for them.
Oh, and how did we celebrate Liana's Gotchaversary/Forever Family Day? With Chinese food, of course! We also have something for her each year on her Gotcha day from China until she turns 18. They're mostly trinkets but some are pretty cool. Every year on her Gotcha anniversary, Liana gets a little piece of China.
So, we found out the results from Liana's upper GI. The nurse told me that Liana's fundo (her nissen fundoplication) has come undone and that she may also have a hernia. She also gave me the number of a surgeon and said that if they didn't call me by the end of the day, to call them. I couldn't get any more information from her than that. I asked her if Liana will definitely need surgery (maybe a stupid question but I was flustered) and she wouldn't give me a definite answer, just said that the surgeon would be able to tell me more. So a nurse called later to schedule an appointment with the surgeon but she didn't even seem to know what she was calling me about so that was kind of frustrating. She couldn't tell me anything, obviously, so we will have to wait for our appointment with the surgeon, which is October 4th. I really wish we didn't have to wait so long. I mean, we have an appointment with a surgeon, so I'm assuming that means she's having surgery. I guess we won't know for sure until October 4th. Stupid lack of communication. Would it kill them to just tell us what they know instead of making us wait all the time?
September 3rd was Liana's 3rd birthday! We were so excited to celebrate with her. Last year, we were exactly two weeks short of getting to be with Liana on her birthday. We did send her a cake to share with her friends and a couple of gifts but it was so sad that we had to miss her birthday by 14 days! It was wonderful to get to finally celebrate her birthday with her...on the actual day! She is such a doll and just loves celebrating birthdays...anyone's birthday. So for her to have her own birthday is a really big deal! Whenever I told her that her birthday was coming soon, she would say, "Ana's birthday?" Yes, baby girl, it's your day!
So, when you miss the first two birthdays, you have to really celebrate, right? Right! We rented a bounce house for the day before her birthday because it was Labor Day so Ella and Erik were home too. Lucky us, the place we rented it from couldn't pick it up until kids' bedtime on Liana's birthday so we got it for her whole birthday also! So we bounced...a lot. Liana wanted a "princess birthday" so that's what our little princess got!
Through the years
Day 1 of Liana's birthday blast
Haha...look at Ella photo bombing!
No cuter backside than this!
Can you tell what his favorite color is? Lellow!
Daddy jumps with intensity!
Little bit of gymnastics
The BIG day!!!
How old are you, Liana? "Phree!"
Sometimes her beauty just takes my breath away! Look at those stunning eyes! I can brag because she got none of it from me! ;-)
Laughing at ge ge (big brother)
These two have so much fun together!
This much excitement over a card! Haha!
She was so excited about her mei mei's birthday!
It's about time she had her own dump truck! These two play "trucks" all the time!
Oh yeah, and this happened the week before her birthday. Big girl loves her big girl bed!
In other news, Liana's appointment with her gastroenterologist was last week. It went well, I guess. We didn't really find out much. They put her on some meds to control her reflux and scheduled an appointment for an upper GI, which she had this morning. She had to drink this nasty barium drink while laying under an x-ray machine while the doctor watched. Our girl was AMAZING during her appointment!!! The doctor and nurses were so impressed with a 3 year old being so cooperative! The nurse told me that they usually have to hold kids her age down but she was as good as she could be, as long as Mommy was right there! So, we won't know the results for a day or 2 but I hope that we will find out if she will need surgery or not. She may have to have an endoscopy next but we really just don't know. After her upper GI, she got 4 stickers and got to pick a beanie baby. She chose a ladybug. Perfect, when you know about the significance of ladybugs with Chinese adoptions. :-) I will always connect ladybugs with our little ladybug.
Uh...do you have something in a smaller size?
And this is big news so I can't leave it out...Ethan started soccer on Liana's birthday! He loves "his soccer" :-)